Our companion animals are integral to our communities
Seeing the need, I created the first Queens Pet Pantry to provide pet supplies to pet owners affected by COVID-19 in collaboration with the Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare, ASPCA, and the Humane Society. Since then, I have provided translation services to the these agencies in webinars on pet health and socialization during these difficult times.
We must recognize that the only voice our companion animals have is us.
Modern Animal rights has existed for 200 years
1635: First known animal protection legislation passes, in Ireland, "An Act against plowing by the tayle, and pulling the wool off living sheep."
1641: The Massachusetts colony's Body of Liberties includes regulations against "Tirranny or Crueltie" toward animals.
1687: Japan reintroduces a ban on eating meat and killing animals.
1780: English philosopher Jeremy Bentham argues for better treatment of animals.
The first legislation for the protection of animals was the ‘Martin’s Act’ In the UK, in 1822. As the popularity of companion animal ownership became increasingly popular, and when the British people started to recognize the relationship between themselves and dogs and cats, this led to an increase in concern for animals’ lives more generally.
From around 1875, another form of cruelty towards animals entered the public arena – that of animal experimentation. From the 1870s, mammals, particularly dogs and cats, were used in animal experiments instead of reptiles (which were used during the 1830s & 1840s).
Then in 1906, the ‘Brown Dog Affair’ took place. Two Swedish students who studied medicine at King’s and University College exposed shocking experiments procedures on animals by medical institutions. The statue of a brown dog was erected in Battersea Park, London, by the International Anti-Vivisection Council, as a memorial for animals used in laboratories. A year later, 100 medical students tried to remove the statue, but local citizens successfully defended it. Although the statue disappeared in 1910, there was a protest against animal experiments in Trafalgar Square attended by several thousand people. The incident successfully gained much more publicity for the cause, and also stimulated considerable media coverage.
The cruelty of factory farming of ‘food animals’ was revealed to a shocked public in the 1950s & 1960s, Ruth Harrison’s seminal book ‘Animal Machines’, which was published in 1964, was instrumental in fuelling the debate and increasing both public and government awareness. In 1967, Peter Roberts founded Compassion in World Farming to protest against the abuse of farm animals. However, at the level of legislation and official administration little changed in practice.
From the 1970s, the movement also started to split into two categories - animal welfare and animal rights. Those who believe in animal rights believe in an animal's natural right to life. They seek to establish basic rights for animals and stop the use/exploitation of animals by humans. Those who believe in animal welfare tend to accept human use of animals, providing that use is humane.
The movement in the United States dates back to the 1860s, when like-minded citizens launched independent, non-profit societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCAs) in one city after another and pursued their goals of compassionate treatment on a range of fronts. During the first decades of the 20th century, the movement focused their attention on practical programs largely connected to horse, dog and cat welfare activities, urban animal control, and educational work on pet keeping. Their animal control activities made it difficult for them to advocate against the cruel treatment of animals in other contexts.
In the second half of the 20th century, there was a revival of the movement in the USA. Discontent with existing organizations’ restricted mandates and their readiness to negotiate with organizations such as the biomedical research community (who had begun to turn to municipal shelters for cheap sources of dogs and cats in the 1940s to meet increased demand for such experiments) led to intra-organizational disputes and the emergence of breakaway groups. The Animal Welfare Institute was formed in 1951 and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in 1954. These soon charted a new course, fuelling the renewal of the movement.
These new organizations did not become directly involved with the management of animal shelters or municipal animal control work. Instead, they focused on areas of animal use that their predecessors had not tackled. These included revitalizing campaigns devoted to humane slaughter, the regulation of laboratory animal use, and the abolition of the steel-jawed leg-hold trap. They also identified and campaigned against emerging animal welfare issues that their predecessors had never faced. They directed much of their energy toward policy change objectives. Cruelty investigations at both the national and local levels also played their part in placing issues on the public agenda.
In the meantime, the movement slowly expanded. There were legislative advances – including the Humane Slaughter Act (1958) and the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) (1966) - although these were largely achieved through political connections, rather than organized advocacy. However, animal welfare was finally gaining a place on the US political landscape.
Wildlife concerns became prominent platforms for several of the organizations that joined the field in the late 1950s and 1960s. So coverage of animal welfare issues was increasing, as well as the number of organizations. The additional of rational arguments to the debate was a crucial factor in its wider acceptance as a legitimate concern.
Subsequent legislative accomplishments in the 1960s and 1970s drew more on grassroots mobilization and direct-mail contact with supporters to generate the support for positive legislation. Also, animal welfare organizations began to form alliances with interest groups working in related areas, especially those connected with environmental protection.
In the early 1980s, an important wave of group formation and movement expansion commenced. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (1981) set the standard for such work. When other groups began to adopt the investigative approach as well, it had an energizing effect.
The 1980s was a decade of greater media visibility and awareness, coupled with great changes within the movement itself. There was dynamic competition between organizations, and a more active supporter base – which itself had higher expectations. Finally, there was greater informal interaction between staff members of various organizations, ensuring better coordination of effort and approach.
The appropriation by animal advocates of the strategic thinking and mobilization methods characteristic of established justice-based movements was significant and lay at the core of many of the dramatic victories accomplished by US animal rights groups throughout the decade.
The period from 1990 marked an era of consolidation, and a dropping off of the novelty value and impact of animal welfare. As regards legislative ‘achievements’, in reality only a small percentage of the many bills to halt or curb animal suffering introduced during the past half century in the U.S. Congress have actually passed. And when they are passed, enforcement efforts and funding are limited. However, the impact the movement has been changing popular culture and the diffusion of animal welfare values. There is now greater awareness of the ethical implications of lifestyle choices, such as diet, household, beauty and other purchases.
This has led to work to influence and raise consumer products and choice. There is also an ongoing need to forge viable and enduring alliances with other movements whose goals converge with its objectives.
Similar expansion and professionalization of the animal welfare movement is taking place in other parts of the world. Some significant recent developments include the development of the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) in India, the Animal Welfare Coalition in the Philippines and the Pan African Animal Welfare Alliance (which unites animal welfare organizations from across the African continent). These have all been developed from 2006 onwards (interestingly all from initial meetings and co-operation at conferences), and are working to provide a united front for the advancement of animal welfare across their countries and regions.
We're getting there but still have a ways to go
2001: Compassion Over Killing conducts an open rescue at a battery hen facility, documenting abuses and rescuing eight hens.
2002: "Dominion" by Matthew Scully is published; McDonald’s settles a class-action lawsuit over their non-vegetarian french fries.
2004: Clothing chain Forever 21 promises to stop selling fur.
2005: The U.S. Congress pulls funding for inspections of horse meat.
2006: The "SHAC 7" are convicted under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act; Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is passed, and an investigation by the Humane Society of the U.S. reveals that items labeled as “faux” fur at Burlington Coat Factory are made of real fur.
2007: Horse slaughter for human consumption ends in the United States, but live horses continue to be exported for slaughter; Barbaro dies at the Preakness.
2009: The European Union bans cosmetics testing and bans the sale or import of seal products.
2010: A killer whale at SeaWorld kills his trainer, Dawn Brancheau. SeaWorld is fined $70,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
2011: National Institute of Health stops funding of new experiments on chimpanzees; President Barack Obama and Congress legalize horse slaughter for human consumption in the U.S.
2012: Iowa passes the nation's fourth ag-gag law, which prohibits the undercover filming of farm conditions without the owner's consent; An international convention of neuroscientists declares that non-human animals have consciousness. The declaration's main author goes vegan. The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness is published in Britain, which states that many nonhuman animals possess the neurological structures to generate consciousness.
2013: The documentary "Blackfish" reaches a mass audience, causing widespread public criticism of SeaWorld.
2014: India bans cosmetic testing on animals, the first Asian country to do so.
2015-2016: SeaWorld announces it will end its controversial orca shows and breeding program.
2017: The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives votes 27 -25 in favor of re-opening horse slaughter plants in the U.S.
2018: Nabisco changes its 116-year-old package design for Animal Crackers. The new box is cage-free; Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Catherine Cortez, D-Nev., introduces the Welfare of Our Furry Friends Act (WOOFF) to prohibit airlines from storing animals in overhead compartments after the death of Kokito, a French bulldog during a United Airlines flight from Houston to New York.
2019: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces plans to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of mammals to test the toxicity of chemicals; California becomes the first U.S. state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur items; Cat declawing is banned in New York State.
Continue our Pet Pantries for at risk pet owners
MY BACKYARD PLAN
During Covid, I noticed a hotline from the ASPCA to provide pet supplies for residents affected by Covid-19. I found that they had locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx but not in Queens. I called in and asked if I could pick up pet supplies for older pet owners in my community.
When I went to their Brooklyn location to pick up the supplies, I asked why they didn’t provide this service in Queens. They told me they didn’t have the staff to provide services to Queens. I asked to speak to someone in authority about offering to provide these services to Queens Residents myself. A few days later, I had a conference call with the ASPCA, The Humane Society of New York and the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare. After some vetting, they agreed to provide me with training and all the pet supplies I could stock, to implement the program in Queens.
I called it the Queens Pet Pantry and set up an online and call in system similar to the ASPCA which worked so well, the ASPCA adopted my systems tracking and soon took over the data management. Encouraged by the overwhelming response to my program, the Queens Borough’s President's office secured several truckloads of pet supplies for distribution to all parts Queens.
I was the only one who saw the need and made it happen. Since then, I have been working with the Mayor’s office of Animal Welfare on several online training seminars translating for our Spanish speaking community on pet safety and health.
In my family, we grew up with Cats, Dogs, Birds, Fish, Snakes and Turtles. We are currently owned by a GoldenDoodle named Frenchie.
I would like to limit the domestic animal trade to shelters for cats and dogs and rabbits. Too many of these pets sold in-store came from abusive conditions. Pets are a special member of our families especially in District 32. I will commit to designating a member of my staff to handle animal issues.
The horse carriage industry is antiquated, cruel and needs to go.
Let’s allocate funding to maintain non-profit animal rescue organizations.
Let’s support legislation preserving the right of individuals over the age of 62 not to be denied housing on the basis of having a companion animal.
Let’s support and vote for Intro 1483 (Levin), which would require the DHS, in collaboration with the Department of Social Services, to develop a plan to accommodate pets of homeless individuals and families with the objective of providing pet-friendly shelters and identifying other temporary pet care arrangements that would allow homeless pet-owners to keep their companion animals.
Let’s support the continuation and expansion of New York City’s WildlifeNYC program. It’s right in our backyard.
Finally, let’s take care of our animals.